I think DS1 should win the prize for 'most token part ever given to a child in a nativity'. He was Herod's servant, which involved walking on with the three wise men, opening an imaginary door for them, and walking off again. They all watched him leave, somewhat bemused, and then got back to the scene. It was unintentionally highly comical, not least because of the seriousness with which DS1 took it. Fortunately DS1 didn't realise, and has so far not noticed the camera shake on my video footage, caused by me suppressing the urge to giggle.
This all started because DS1 had been away the day they all got to say what they wanted to be. Apparently they were all going 'Me! Me! I want to be a shepherd/angel/king!', but when the teacher said, "So who wants to read the prayer we're going to make up for the end" there was a general murmuring indicating they couldn't possibly do that, and so it was decided that DS1 should, "because he's a good reader."
He is a good reader, but that does not, strangely enough, mean that he always wants to be the narrator/storyteller/person who reads bits out - no matter how convenient that is for the staff concerned. These roles rarely involve any dressing up or acting and DS1 does actually want to be an actor (and a snorkeler, but that's not necessarily relevant in a school setting). I therefore decided to say something to his teacher, to ask if he might be allowed to do something as well as just the reading. Herod's servant was the response.
Before his imaginary door duties, he was stuck at the side of the audience with Herod, waiting to come on, but still joining in all the songs. I couldn't see him directly, only through the camera phone by holding it up above my head, and even then most of the shot was taken up with another parent's camera phone. Still, I could see that over there in the dark he was really going for it with his singing, and nearly took Herod out with a well timed flinging of the arms to tell Mary and Joseph there was no room. Given the tokenism of his casting I'm surprised he didn't finish the job and stride out saying 'Who's the Herod now?!' - fortunately, that's not quite in his nature.
After his imaginary door duties, he got to stand on the side at the other side of the audience - this time not even with any other children, just by himself, next to the teacher, Mrs M, who was leading it. So, I dutifully videoed more of DS1 singing brilliantly with enthusiastic actions in the dark, with a background of a teacher trying to equally enthuse the rest of the kids - who unlike DS1, had been allowed into the light. They, their unnecessary amount of tinsel and white sheeting, and growing expressions of boredom, had the luxury of being in full view of the appreciative audience.
"Never mind," I thought, "he's saying the last prayer, the final words before the end of the show, I'll get a good shot of him then. Surely he'll come into the middle, or go to the microphones on the podium where the other narrators had been". How foolish was I? Of course! The way to end a Key Stage 1 nativity is by having DS1 remain in the dark, at the side, in the shadow of Mrs M to say the final prayer - where no one could see him at all or hear him properly, despite his best attempts. Perhaps Mrs M was trying to make some Chekhovian comment on the futility of it all, but was it really the time and place? Even when they sang the song after the prayer and there was a procession of kings, camels and god knows what else, so that every other child would end up sitting on the stage in a lovely final picture - DS1, under instruction, remained at the side in the shadows.
I say every other child, my friend's little boy suffered a similar fate - one line as a centurion early on and then stuck at the side in the dark for the rest of it, with his sidekick centurion. If I didn't know the three of them to be pretty much the best behaved boys in that class, I'd have thought they'd done something to upset someone. Maybe it was karma for me describing the headmaster as an arse on Twitter - actually I might just go and double check I did that through my anonymous account....
It did bring out the militant mum in me though. When Mrs M asked if any parent would like to come and take a photo - when at this point even the centurions has been ushered on but DS1 was still stood at her side - I marched out, grabbed DS1 and sat him front and centre on the straw bale right in front of Mary and said pointedly 'There you are darling, now I can see you'.
Usefully, putting him there also blocked the fact that one of the shepherds, bored with holding a cuddly toy, had surreptitiously stuffed his sheep in the manger, where it appeared to be suffocating the Baby Jesus - so I like to think I made an improvement to everyone's photo, not just mine.
Now after all that, if he's not Joseph next year there will be trouble...